Topher Payne: Bad day prepper

What people fail to realize is that those ragtag groups of survivors are ragtag for a reason: the world ended. The odds are pretty high that you were one of the hundreds of millions of people who perished in a visually stunning set piece while John Cusack and his estranged wife sped past you. You did not win the lottery. You are toast.

That’s why the phrase “Doomsday Prepper” is a contradiction in terms. There is no prepping for Doomsday. That’s why they call it Doomsday. We are doomed. I suppose one could be a “Bad Day Prepper,” and I’m on board for that. I always have vodka, candles and toilet paper in the house so I’m never caught off guard.

I put some serious thought into living in a post-Apocalyptic wasteland, and I have determined that it’s just not for me. If I stayed in Atlanta, I’d be fighting off gun-toting street gangs and foraging for cans of beans at what’s left of my neighborhood Kroger, which never had a great selection on its best day.

Assuming I made it out of the city, I’d be living off the land, presumably farming or raising cattle in a cooperative of dirty hippies. If I had any interest in, or knowledge of, living off the land, I would already be doing that.

My manual labor experience is limited to my own back yard, and even that’s been really inconsistent because I am easily distracted by more important things, like a new episode of “Downton Abbey.” And I’m sorry, but I am not signing up for repopulating Earth. I know what that would involve, and again, if I were interested in that sort of thing I’d already be doing it.

Also, I do not like being dirty. I prefer for my hair to smell like jojoba, not zombie entrails.

There are those who claimed the Mayan prediction was not a literal demise of the planet, but a rebirth of sorts: the dawn of a new consciousness, wherein mankind emerges newly enlightened. A kinder, gentler planet. I like that concept. Less property damage, and it likely would smell better.

Looking back on the year we closed out, we could have really used a reboot. There are lessons we should have learned.

We should know that nothing is ultimately gained from rallying around a common enemy. Kindness, charity, and an open dialogue are not the actions of the weak. It requires tremendous strength and courage to pursue a life driven by those standards.

I fail in this regard on a daily basis. It’s unfair for me to criticize the people I’m up against for failing at a concept I struggle with so mightily. I should focus more on listening if I ever want my chance to be heard. It’s called communication, and we kind of suck at it these days.

What if we all just agreed the Mayans were right? The passing of 2012 marked the end of an old world. This new year marks the beginning of a new era, where we try a little harder, pay closer attention, endeavor to be more empathetic. Help each other out.

Because the Bad Day Preppers are right about one thing: We are not guaranteed a tomorrow that looks anything like today. So, instead of stockpiling Charmin and Spam in preparation for the world to come, maybe we could take better care of the world we’ve got right now.


Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.” Find out more at